Durham University

Durham Law School

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Publication details for Professor Aoife O'Donoghue

O'Donoghue, Aoife (2010). Neutrality and Multilateralism after the First World War. Journal of Conflict and Security Law 15 (1): 169-202.

Author(s) from Durham


Neutrality went through a period of convulsion after the First World War. During the inter-war years a number of commentators argued that the League of Nations and the Kellogg–Briand Pact combined had fundamentally changed the law of the use of force to such a degree that neutrality was no longer viable as a doctrine. Ireland as a newly independent state during this period exemplified these debates and as such is a useful prism to aid in the understanding of how other states reacted to the new multilateralism established in the League of Nations. Ireland, similar to other states such as Switzerland, recognized this new multilateralism by joining the League and signing the Kellogg–Briand Pact; yet these states always strived to maintain the capability to declare neutrality. The Second World War brought neutrality to the fore as a core aspect of war-time law. It also required states such as Ireland and Switzerland to utilize neutrality to maintain their sovereignty. Ultimately this influenced how neutrality would be viewed under the UN Charter.